Not to burst your foodie bubble, but for the most part, the Chinese food that you and I know and love isn’t actually authentic. That’s right, my friend. A majority of the dishes at your local Chinese spot are, well, westernised interpretations of the real thing.
The ever-popular dim sim, for example, is an adaptation of pork and cabbage dumplings, originally called siu mai. Created in a Melbourne restaurant back in the 1940s, these bad boys are still a red hot favourite among Aussies diners.
Original dishes vary from western interpretations partly because of the availability of produce, but also because of how our cultural palates differ. For example, Aussies generally prefer white, boneless chicken breast, whereas genuine Chinese dishes use darker meat, organs, and even small bones for their nutritional value. The Chinese food readily available here (and in other western countries) is also fairly toned down in the spice department and tends to make very liberal use of soy sauce and sugar. Great for the added taste, bad for the old waistline…
How about the ubiquitous stir fry? Any dish that uses broccoli, carrots, or onion is generally a western adaptation of the original, with those ingredients very rarely used in authentic Chinese cooking. Also, dishes served in China are seldom deep fried, with most being steamed, boiled, braised or even baked. So much healthier!
Sweet and sour pork, while a firm Aussie favourite (and fourth most ordered dish on Menulog) also doesn’t hail from mainland China. The battered chunks, cooked with capsicum and pineapple are fairly different to the original Cantonese sweet and sour pork, which is made with vinegar, preserved plums and hawthorn candy. The western version is almost a fluorescent orange, whereas the original is closer to a scarlet colour.
Also, anything that contains cheese, not authentic. In fact, cheese is very rarely consumed in China, with most Chinese being lactose intolerant. So those cheesy wontons? They’re a western invention.
Prawn crackers? Nope, not eaten with meals in China.
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